Chris Shepler, owner and operator of Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry, speaks out against the aging oil pipelines.
"The signs of spring are abundant these days, even up here at the Mackinac Straits: The ice has finally given way, seasonal residents and tourists are returning, and my family's passenger ferry service is making the round-trip trek again between Mackinaw City and the sparkling gem that is Mackinac Island, as we have for 70 seasons and counting.
"Something unseen is changing, too: The twin oil pipelines lying at the bottom of the turbulent straits have grown another year older. They are 62 years old, in fact, and I find that deeply concerning.
"Don't get me wrong. My boats need oil to operate, but we need the clean, fresh water even more. People come here to swim, skip stones, fish and frolic in these waters. They come to watch the waves sparkle and the sun set. If there's a major oil spill in the straits, it's game over for my family business and the region's economy for years to come. University of Michigan researchers in 2014 called it "the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes," and I agree."